Do you want to know how to apply for a green guide without employer sponsorship? Are you concerned about lawyer’s fees? If you have an advanced degree or pursuing one (Masters, PhD, PhD student, Postdoc, or Researcher with a PhD) and trying to get a green card, this site is for you.

This website brings you the complete green card experience from start to finish of several PhDs who have self-petitioned and successfully obtained their green cards without a lawyer or employer in either EB1A (Exceptional Ability) or EB2-NIW (National Interest Wavier). Our goal is to help others in similar situations. Our founder was once in your shoes; read on to learn more about how this website started.

My Personal Self Petition PhD Green Card Story

“I was in a similar situation in 2005, a few years before the start of this website. I had finished my PhD and joined a national lab as a post-doc.

Around that time, one of my friends was applying for a green card with the help of a lawyer by paying $4500 in lawyer fees and application fees for himself and his spouse.

I was instantly interested and decided to explore the option myself. So, first of all, I sent an email to the lawyer’s office, who then requested a copy of my vitae and a brief description of my work. After setting up a free consultation, the lawyer called me to review my vitae and suggested I find an employee to sponsor me as I did not hold a strong case for self-petition.

According to the lawyer, the reasoning was simple: my work was not of national importance, and so an EB1A would prove hard to obtain. I had worked in field optics and lasers (femtosecond optics, to be more specific), none of which seemed to show national importance to a non-technical person at a glance.

The lawyer said, “I do not see that your work can be considered national merit. I suggest you find employment, and I can help you as an outstanding researcher (EB1-OR) with the help of employer sponsorship”. This was out of the question since my post-doc position was not permanent, and the national lab could not apply for a green card based on my job. My boss at the national lab would have had to convert me to a regular staff member to get me a green card. That’s a whole ordeal in itself! The discussion with the lawyer took a total of 3-4 minutes and left me utterly confused as to what my next step should be.

Here is the problem: my field was specialized enough that most jobs (except for academic jobs) require permanent residency in the first place. A significant number of employers who utilize the skills of an Optics PhD perform work for the government or are involved in ITAR research projects. This situation was severely limiting my options. My options were either to join a permanent academic position (other than a postdoc) that allowed green card sponsorship or to find a non-profit company willing to hire me and sponsor a green card.

For nearly five months, I left the hopes of applying for a green card on my own and just continued with my work, hoping to find some solution later. Surprisingly, the answer came as a retrogression announcement in the middle of September 2005. The visa bulletin of October 2005 announced that EB2-NIW visa numbers would become unavailable for my nationality. It meant if I did not apply for a green card in 15 days, I would not have the choice of concurrent filing my petition. I need concurrent filing to assist myself with an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) needed for employment and advance parole for travel.

Going Ahead With My Self Petition for a Green Card

The next step was unclear at the time, as this news put me under severe pressure to rethink self-petitioning.

However, I decided to self-petition with no employer sponsorship and without the help of a lawyer. I learned a lot about the green card application process and its involvement. I quickly studied several websites to understand the bigger picture. I carefully sat down to see if I qualify under EB2-NIW and if my work can be justified as “national interest” under the USCIS criteria.

To my surprise, it did qualify! In fact, it occurred to me that most people with a Ph.D. very likely qualify under NIW.

My First Self Petition for NIW

So, I decided to do an EB2-NIW self-petition. I called a few friends who applied for the EB2-NIW and asked if I could look at their petitions. With the help of a couple of example petitions, I created a plan for what to do and how to do it and started implementing it.

With little time to lose, I spent the next 12 days (nearly 100 hours) collecting evidence of all sorts, reference letters, filling out applications, writing a petition, and setting up medical examinations needed for I-485. I finally got everything ready and mailed it to USCIS Texas just in time to avoid retrogression.

I received an application receipt at the end of the second week of October and an email by the end of the third week saying my I-140 was approved. Less than 21 days after I mailed the application, my I-140 was approved! This fantastic news allowed me to look for jobs using the EAD without waiting for the actual green card.

However, there were jobs I could apply to using the EAD, but the ones I wanted to work on required a green card due to ITAR restrictions. While this was better than before, I still needed to get a green card in 2007 due to my I-485 visa number availability.

The Second I-140 Self Petition in EB1A

So, I simply repeated the I-140 application process in the EB1A extraordinary ability category in 2007. My I-485 was approved in September 2007, nearly two years after starting my first I-140 application.

Since beginning my green card journey, I have helped many of my friends with the self-petition process and helped them apply successfully on their own. Between 2006 and 2007, I shared my petition with six friends who self-petitioned. All of their I-140s were approved, and many got their green cards (some applied after me but got their GCs even before I did!). Some of them were in the adjustment of the status process when this website was started. They independently navigated the application process (some even with RFE: request for evidence).


I have learned the following:

  • One is a better judge of his own chances in national interest waiver or chances in extraordinary ability.
  • Most PhDs can apply in EB2-NIW or EB1A (extraordinary ability).

The purpose of this website is to bring together my and my friend’s experiences who successfully petitioned and got approvals in helping you with self-petitioning your green card application using our easy-to-use DIY packages.

Our blog, which we started in 2009, answers the most common questions in the NIW and EB1 application process.

Using the information in the blog, including our DIY packet and even FREE eBook you can work towards getting your US green card yourself. All of our information is continually updated with USCIS changes and user feedback. Hundreds of people have successfully obtained their I-140 petition approvals through our website, and you can, too!

Simply read through our website for helpful information to help with your green card application.”

Disclaimer: The contents in this web site are only for your information and are not intended to be legal advice. While many of our applicants successfully obtain their I-140 approvals, the information here should not be considered as a guarantee of your green card application outcome.

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